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February 24, 2021

Maine Delegation Urges President Biden to Act on Pledge to Protect the Livelihoods of Lobstermen

Lawmakers decry lack of evidence of effectiveness for rules that “may ultimately shut down Maine’s lobster fishery by 2030”

WASHINGTON — In their first joint letter to President Biden, Maine’s congressional delegation raised the alarm on misguided regulations that present an unprecedented threat to the state’s lobstermen and lobstering communities, and urged the president to act on his promise to protect lobstermen’s livelihoods. 

The letter from Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02), Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME), and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) comes ahead of a May 31st deadline to finalize the onerous rules, which are designed to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale. 

“Given what we know — and what the data clearly demonstrates — about the low risk of Maine’s lobster fishery relative to other activities, we oppose a proposal that has the potential to destroy thousands of livelihoods, hundreds of coastal communities, and the economic backbone of our state,” wrote the lawmakers to President Biden. “Acting on behalf of Maine lobstermen on this issue is an opportunity to show that your administration is on the side of hardworking Americans who contribute to our local, state, and national economies.”

As the members of Congress and the Maine lobster industry have been demonstrating since 2019, the evidence does not support the claim that Maine’s lobster fishery presents a risk to right whales significant enough to warrant such drastic measures.

“Since 2002, there has not been a single right whale serious injury or mortality that has been attributed to the Gulf of Maine or Georges Bank lobster fishery. During this same time period, however, 16 documented entanglements have been attributed to Canada. Moreover, Canadian entanglements and vessel strikes have significantly hampered the recovery of right whales in the past five years, with more than a dozen right whale deaths since 2017 attributed to Canada,” Golden, Collins, King, and Pingree wrote.

Noting the president’s commitment to work to protect lobstermen, Collins, King, Pingree, and Golden appealed to President Biden to follow through on his promise to protect the source of their livelihoods. 

“When former President Trump came to Maine last year to meet with our lobster industry, you tweeted, ‘President Trump can try and shift blame all he wants, but the fact is Maine's hardworking lobstermen and women are hurting under his watch. They deserve better. And as President, I will work to protect the livelihood and safety of the fishing community.’ Maine’s lobstermen are seeking your assurance that they can continue to provide for their families, that their communities will survive, and that their children will be able to continue Maine’s long-standing lobstering heritage,” continued the lawmakers.

Read a copy of the delegation’s letter here.

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